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Explained: How will you be affected by changes to Swedish ID codes?

Explained: How will you be affected by changes to Swedish ID codes?
If you have a coordination number, or are planning a move to Sweden, these are important changes to be aware of. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT
Sweden on Tuesday announced proposals to overhaul the system of coordination numbers, the identity codes used by many foreigners in Sweden as well as other individuals who need to contact Swedish authorities. Here's what the new changes would mean for those affected.

The government described the changes as a complete “restart” of the system, and there are important changes to be aware of for anyone who currently has a coordination number or is planning to move to Sweden. 

What is a coordination number?

A Swedish samordningsnummer or coordination number is a ten-digit code used as identification for people who don't have proof that they will live in Sweden for at least a year, such as a job contract of that length. That includes people who work in Sweden but either do not live there or do not have a long enough contract, people who are seeking asylum in Sweden, people who live abroad but have a business or property registered in Sweden, and people who are studying or job-hunting in Sweden.

If you live in Sweden longer than that, you can get a so-called personal number (personnummer). These numbers are not affected by the proposed changes.

Why is the system changing?

In the autumn, the government ordered an inquiry into the whole system of coordination numbers.

This came after both Swedish police and government agencies warned that the existing system allowed many people to live in Sweden without their identity being confirmed. That was due to the lack of a general requirement for people to prove their identity in order to receive the number (although different authorities have different rules).

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What will people need to do in order to get a coordination number?

Under the new rules, anyone applying for a coordination number will need to supply a current contact address. And it will be possible for this address to be overseas, for example in the case of cross-border workers. 

Individuals who want a coordination number will also need to apply for the number in person, a requirement which is not currently in place. Today, the holders of around half of all coordination numbers have not confirmed their identity, according to the government.

How will people who currently have coordination numbers be affected?

As well as complying with the rules above, such as by supplying a contact address, people with coordination numbers will also need to be aware that they could in future lose these numbers.

That shouldn't happen if you still need the number. But the numbers will automatically be de-registered after a period of five years unless the individual or a relevant authority can prove a continued need for the status. It will also be possible for the Tax Agency to remove coordination numbers from people if it finds evidence they have been misused (in other words, if the person they were issued to did not meet the requirements to receive one).

When will these changes come into effect?

The changes outlined above are part of a proposed 'fast track', and the idea is that they'd start from January 1st, 2021. But it's not final yet.

The government is also working on a general inquiry aimed at revamping the entire coordination number system, and that will take longer, with the report expected by April 2021. Some of the issues expected to be addressed by this are ways to make the whole system more secure and change the system of identity verification. 


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